To the Editor:
On May 30th, Congressman Richard Neal gave an hour-long interview to Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe on Miller’s Political Happy Hour. At 37 minutes into the wide-ranging interview, Miller brought up the subject of the ad run by frustrated citizens in Williamsburg showing the Congressman’s face covered in a large question mark and accompanied by the caption “Where’s Richie Neal?” Neal laughed it off. He responded by parsing the demographics, saying that outside of Hampden County 2 percent of the constituents in his district live in Franklin County, 7 percent in western Hampshire and 19 percent in Berkshire County. “Nobody’s complaining in Berkshire County,” said the Congressman.
This was news to Richard Brown of Sheffield and myself who have been working since March to arrange a town hall in the Berkshires, beginning with two face-to-face encounters with Neal. Brown spoke with him after the March 11th healthcare town hall in Chicopee and I did the same after the Four Freedoms-sponsored Act Now! civic participation workshop at Berkshire Community College on April 1st. In both conversations, Neal was gracious and indicated he would welcome the opportunity to dialogue with constituents at a town hall in Berkshire County.
Numerous phone calls and emails to district staff failed to advance this process. A certified letter was sent to Congressman Neal on April 12th asking for arrangements to be made for the meeting. The letter was followed by dozens of calls from constituents expressing dismay that their legitimate concerns were not being heard. At a time when residents of Massachusetts are under siege by a government in Washington that does not represent our interests or our values, we need a representative in Congress who will meet with us, listen to us and strengthen our resolve. Read your mail, Congressman Neal. People in Berkshire County have been complaining for three months.